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Monday, July 16, 2018

Don't Forget Your Hat

There is a piece of prepping gear that I find oddly lacking in a great many preps: A hat. Not only is it missing in a majority of preppers kits, I find that those who have one tend to be missing a good hat.


Why You Need a Good Hat

When SHTF you can expect to be outdoors a lot, whether during the event itself or in the events after it. The sun is hot, unpleasant and miserable to be in when you have no shelter from it; injury and even death can result from overexposure to it. Thankfully, most of it can be avoided with simple protection, and avoidance is much easier than recovery.

Sunstroke can be a major problem when it occurs, and is a reason for hospitalization in and of itself. Wearing a wide brimmed hat can sharply reduce that. A hat can even be wetted down to help keep you cool, in addition to providing shade.

Next is simple sunburn. Anyone who has had sunburn can tell you how miserable it is, and how bad it can be if it is on your neck, face, or shoulders, and how hard it can be to carry a pack (or even wear a shirt) when it rubs against your neck at all. Sunblock can help a great deal, but it only goes so far, and will not protect against things like extended exposure. A hat will also only help so much, but it will do more than sunblock will.

Both sunstroke and sunburn can happen in any climate. Even in a cloudy climate, UV radiation can penetrate the cloud layer and cause damage. In fact, while hiking it can be wise to wear protection against the sun even when there is cloud cover, because people often do not notice the damage as quickly and will damage themselves without noticing.

Cloudy weather also brings another potential threat that a hat will help to protect against: rain. For those with glasses, keeping them from being rained on will preserve your vision. For those without glasses, a good hat will still allow you to see more easily in inclement weather.


What Kind of Hat?

I recommend a wide-brimmed hat with a rigid enough brim that it holds itself up and covers both your face and your neck. I personally prefer a hat with minimal venting, but that may depend on who you are and the climate you are in.

In any case, a good hat should run (at the time of this writing) from less than $15 (link 1) to $50 or more to in-between, depending on exactly what you want. Even if you are like me and require specially-ordered hats for your overly large skull, a good basic hat runs less than $100. Getting a fully custom made Beaver fur hat built for me specifically was around $600, which is about the top of the cost range.





In short, a small investment can save you a lot of hassle and grief.

Don’t forget to wear a hat.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Tim's $30 IFAK Challenge

This is my take on an inexpensive IFAK. You may notice that each of us have slightly different choices in our kits; this is because we all have differing levels of training and
we carry what we know how to use.


The Bag to Hold It All

I found a soft-sided cooler designed to carry six cans of beverage (with ice) that has a zippered compartment in the “lid”. The larger supplies fit into the waterproof base easily, and the smaller pieces don't quite fill the zippered compartment. There is room to add to this kit, which will probably happen after I finish writing this article. It has a carry handle on top and it's small enough to fit behind, or under, the seat of my truck. It looks like a lunch box and won't draw the extra attention that a large red cross would.



Bandages and Gauze

Gauze squares (pads) are used to clean wounds and absorb blood. They're what you grab when you need to put pressure on a wound to stop the bleeding. I bought the most common sizes, 2”x2” and 3”x3”. The boxes contained 10 of each, for $1.00 and $1.99 respectively.

Non-stick pads are used to cover a wound once the bleeding has stopped. They will protect the wound from debris and dirt and most will absorb any minor bleeding or other seepage from a wound. The 3”x4” size will cover small to medium sized wounds. $2.19.

Rolled gauze is used to secure the pads in place once the bleeding has stopped, as well as general binding together of things like splints and slings. 3”x 2.5Yd roll, $1.00.

Adhesive bandages (Band-Aid is a brand name, but that's what most people call them) are handy for covering small cuts and wounds. I bought two boxes, one of clear waterproof standard bandages in two sizes (3/4” and 1” wide) and one of knuckle and fingertip bandages. $2.19 per box.

Bandannas because I couldn't find triangular bandages, which have been a staple in my first aid kits for as long as I can remember. These 20”x20” bandannas will work if folded in half (they're thin, so folding them is best) as slings, bindings, emergency head cover, water pre-filters, and a host of other uses. I put two of them in the top compartment. $1.00 each.


Other Supplies

Vinyl gloves. Take a class on blood-borne pathogens and you'll keep gloves in every kit you own. I choose vinyl or nitrile gloves because I have too many friends who are sensitive to natural latex. These one-size-fits-most vinyl gloves were in the hardware aisle, near the paint supplies. 8 gloves, so 4 pair for $1.00.

Tape. I found several types of tape for about the same price, but I chose the clear “surgical” tape. It tears easily enough that you don't need scissors while still being strong enough to hold bandages together or to skin. The adhesive is fairly waterproof and holds up to minor stretching and motion on joints. 1”x10 Yd roll, $1.59.

Self-sticking tape. The common brand name is Coban, which is a 3M trademark. Make sure you look at the packaging and buy the latex-free versions. This is the duct tape of a first aid kit, it sticks to itself but not to skin or hair, and is stronger than you would expect. Handy for general binding and securing bandages, it comes in a variety of colors and sizes. I chose a generic brand 3” x 4 Yd roll because it fit nicely in the bag. $2.99.

Hand sanitizer. I found a one ounce bottle of Purell, which is gelled alcohol. It has an indefinate shelf-life and will disinfect wounds just as well as it does hands. It's also a handy fire starting aid, but that's not strictly first-aid related. $1.00.

Super glue. Generic super glue works wonders for closing small cuts. It stings a bit, but if applied over the top of a cut that is being held closed, it bonds the skin almost immediately (if you've ever glued your fingers together, you know how fast it sets). 2 tiny tubes for $1.00.

Emergency blanket. One of the cheap “Space blankets” found in the camping supplies aisle. This one wasn't as cheap as some I've bought, but they're all aluminum-covered Mylar and they all do the same job. Reflecting up to 80% of body heat, these little blankets are useful for treating and preventing shock. $1.99.

Flashlight. I have more flashlights than I know what to do with, but I always keep one in my first aid kit. Checking pupil dilation requires a light source (training required) and I have often needed extra light when trying to find or treat an injury. This one is a throw-away LED light, I can replace it easily and it is stored with the batteries out of the light. $1.00.

Everything laid out... 


.. and when packed in the bag


Things Which Eluded Me

I was unable to find a pair of EMT shears in either of the dollar stores that I shopped at, but I have spares so one will go into the kit. EMT shears are right up there with rolled gauze and triangular bandages in utility. There's not much you can't cut with them, as I used to show the Cub Scouts by cutting pennies in half. They make short work of seat belts, clothing, and light metal, and the rounded nose keeps you from inflicting damage (most of the time). They can be found on Amazon or picked up at an actual pharmacy/health care supply store for a few dollars.

Tourniquets are a specialty item, so I didn't expect to find them in a dollar store. Give me a stick and one of the bandannas and I'll make a field-expedient tourniquet. I can think of several ways to make one, so the lack of one doesn't bother me as much as some (tactical) folks think it should. 

With the recent (2016) changes in CPR training, they now emphasize rapid compressions and breathing is secondary, I'm finding it harder to locate CPR shields to protect the aid-giver from contact with potentially dangerous bodily fluids. I can get them online, so they're on my shopping list. Get CPR training through the Red Cross or American Heart Association, it's cheap and a lot of businesses will pay for their employees' training.


Total

Supplies totaled up to $23.13, but the bag was $8.00 and that puts me at $31.13, slightly over the $30 limit. 

To remedy this, I also picked up a plastic container with a latching lid. Made of hard plastic and thinner than the bag, the 11”x”x6”x2” box held everything once I got rid of all the extra packaging. It only cost $2.75, dropping my total to $25.88.



I think I'll stick with the bag for convenience, durability, and the extra room to add to the kit later.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Scott's $30 IFAIK Challenge

When we the staff at BCP decided to try our hands at making a $30 emergency kit, I thought about the restrictions and, based on those, made an executive decision:

I would purchase everything from one physical storefront, traveling to and from it by foot or by bicycle.

I figure that there are plenty of other reviewers who will order things online, and plenty who will take time to carefully cultivate a specific list of what is needed. I, on the other hand, showed up at the store, and could only purchase what was physically available in a single visit.
  • The first thing I looked for was something to carry things in. I found a small laundry hamper (about 1.2 cubic feet) with comfortable handles and holes in the sides. This gave me a large enough container to hold everything, and has plenty of spots to which I could tie things. 
  • I then purchased a four-foot three-prong extension cord, and have since braided it into a comfortable handle. In a pinch, it will still serve as an extension cord.
  • I bought a binder pouch and put into it super glue, band aids, nitrite gloves, electrical tape, allergy pills, acetaminophen (paracetamol) and antibiotic gel. I figure that this is the core of my first aid kit. 
  • I also had bandages and rubbing alcohol, but those did not fit into the binder pouch. 
  • If I were to assemble this kit without the restrictions I put on myself, I would purchase proper medical tape of some sort.
  • I made sure to buy a razor knife (to cut things accurately) and some feminine napkins (in case of a major spill of some sort). 
  • I figured that being able to start a fire is important in an emergency, so I got a lighter and sparklers. Sparklers are not as useful for starting a fire, but they will stay lit in damp conditions, and along with the rubbing alcohol above they will make it easier to get recalcitrant tinder started. 
  • I put in a flashlight and spare AAA batteries. It is surprisingly bright, and LED flashlights have come a long way. 
  • Complimenting the light are a mylar blanket and emergency poncho in case of foul weather.
  • I decided to purchase some cotton string and a four-pack of glow sticks, so that I would have a method to mark off areas and possibly even signal for help.
  • At the end of my shopping trip, I had room in the budget for some one-liter water bottles and granola bars
Total cost: $28.66 including tax.

This should give me an inexpensive, light, portable kit that I can keep in the back of a car, on my shelf, or even strapped onto the back of a BoB. This is affordable for a college student, someone on a fixed income, or even someone who wants to start prepping and is not sure how to start. I figure this makes it a fairly accessible item.

Notes
  • If I had spent more time on this, I would have gone to another dollar store and gotten one of the cheap “back to school” backpacks they have in stock, or even a duffel bag. 
  • I also would have made sure to put in a suture kit and a tourniquet, but given the limitations of what I had on hand, I feel I did pretty well.

Don’t forget to practice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rhi's $30 IFAK Challenge

I don't do as much writing for BCP as I used to, but I still like to keep my hand in. This means that when something like this challenge is presented, I enjoy taking part, both for the chance to write about something that interests me and for the competitive edge against myself.

Our ever-faithful Editrix Erin posted yesterday about her own take on the IFAK Challenge from Chaplain Tim. Its a good read, and the take is much like Erin: solid and with a unique perspective.

Like everyone else who decided to take part, I budgeted $30 total and shopped only at places available to everyone, either retail outlets or online. My choices included Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, and Wish.com. The vast majority came from Dollar Tree, simply due to pricing; I can purchase a lot there for a very small amount, and it was a fantastic means of stretching a budget so much that I could hear my change squealing in pain.


Wal-Mart


My first stop was at Wal-Mart for my only major purchase. It was also my most expensive purchase at $11.13 after tax and it is composed of two separate items.

The Equate All Purpose First Aid Kit (cost $9.88) is the same one I use in my personal BoB. This comes with gloves, antiseptic wipes, a wide variety of bandages and gauze pads for wound closures as well as medical tape for the gauze pads. Also included are a few small packets of antibiotic ointment, tweezers, an instant cold pack, and butterfly closures. Its a good all-around start for a basic first aid kit that comes with a very reasonable price tag.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Equate-All-Purpose-First-Aid-Kit-140-count/421170443

The other addition from Wal-Mart was a pair of white terry wash cloths from the bath & bedding department. They were on sale in a 4 pack for $1, and I just couldn't pass that up. Wash cloths have a huge variety of uses ranging from bandaging to wound dressings to the simple use of cleaning an area of blood so that it can be better treated. They can also be cut into multiple long strips for tying splints.


Online

My second "stop" was actually a bit of online shopping which took place months ago, before the challenge was issued. The items purchased, however, should still be available, and since I already had them it meant I wouldn't have to wait on shipping times to include them.



My first choice from my various Wish.com list is a Tourniquet that I managed to purchase for $1. I actually got 3 of them when I made the purchase initially, and they're still available at that price, so instead of ordering more I simply moved one of my spares into this Challenge Kit.







Second choice from Wish was a couple of rolls of Self-Adhering Elastic Bandage. I chose 2 rolls so I would have some spare for my personal bag, but I'm only counting 1 roll for this, at $2.





Third on the purchase list at Wish was a set of Iodine Swabs for wound cleaning. They are currently listed for $6, but I managed to get them while they were on sale for the impressive price of $1 for 100 swabs.





The total spent at Wish.com was $4, other than shipping, which I'm not going to include since it depends on your location.


Dollar Tree

By this point I had spent almost exactly half my budget. I knew I could add significantly to my kit for the amount I had remaining, but I also knew I was going to have to get seriously creative on some of my additions.

I'm cheap. I admit that I'm cheap. I love shopping when I can spend very little and get a lot, and that's why Dollar Tree has appealed to me for several years. Being able to stick to the rest of my budget and still achieve a wide variety of useful items was a decided win.


This would be the whole haul of 14 separate items from Dollar Tree.

I started with the obvious stuff in the health area: Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen, along with Low-Dose Aspirin. Not everyone can take any one type, and the Aspirin is good for potential heart attacks as well.

The anti-diarrhea and laxative meds speak for themselves, as should the Daytime/Nighttime allergy relief. An ace style bandage wrap, antiseptic wipes, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer were all obvious choices to me.

The items which weren't so obvious were still easy picks to my mind. There's a package of crafting Popsicle sticks to use for splinting, and as something to hold things open in a hygienic manner.

Tampons make a good wound packing material, since they are absorbent cotton and come in a individual packaging. The plastic applicator from those could also easily be used either for wound drainage, or for an emergency tracheotomy.

The small travel sewing kit has a wide variety of materials held within, which can be used for anything from holding bandages in place (the safety pins) or as an impromptu suturing kit. It also contains a small pair of scissors, which will ultimately help with the medical tape when using the gauze from the initial basic kit.

The final item from my brief spree at Dollar Tree was a roll of Duct Tape. It has far too many uses to start listing them here, unless I want Erin growling at me for the next 2 days.

Total spent at Dollar Tree was $14 plus tax, which around here meant $15.62 total.


My Money's Worth

At the end of the day, I managed to stay mostly in budget, mainly by fudging on the shipping costs from Wish.com since I was ordering for myself at the same time as for the challenge, and the shipping charges wouldn't have changed.
  • Wal-Mart = $11.13
  • Wish.com = $ 4.00
  • Dollar Tree   = $15.62
Grand total = $30.75 due to taxes.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Erin's $30 IFAK Challenge

& is used with permission.
Last week Chaplain Tim challenged us to build an IFAK using only $30 and only using sources that anyone can find (like Walmart, Amazon, a Dollar Store, etc). Here's my submission, and let me tell you, I am not happy with it.

The main reason I'm not happy with it is because a decent tourniquet alone is going to cost $30 or more, and when I think IFAK I think "Infatryman's First Aid Kit" which to me means "bullet wound" which means "Needs a tourniquet."

With that objection noted, here's what I put together:

Adventure Medical Trauma Pak with Advanced Clotting Sponge

https://amzn.to/2m2JPU5

Contents:
  • (1) QuikClot 25g Sponge (Zeolite)
  • (1) 5” x 9” Trauma Pad
  • (1) Pair Nitrile Gloves
  • (1) Hand Wipe
  • (1) 2” x 26” Duct Tape
  • (1) Triangular Bandage
  • (1) Package 4” x 4” Sterile Gauze Dressing, 2 dressings per package
  • (1) Package 2” x 2” Sterile Gauze Dressing Pkg, 2 dressings per package
  • (1) 3” Conforming Gauze Bandage
  • (4) After Cuts & Scrapes Antiseptic Wipe (Lidocaine Hydrochloride, Benzalkonium Chloride)
  • (1) Re-Sealable Bag for Bio-Waste and Sucking Chest Wounds

Reasoning: With a clotting sponge, trauma pad, gauze, and the ability to improvise a chest seal, this is most of what I think I'd need to handle any wound that I feel comfortable treating and is the core of my budget IFAK.

Cost: $18.93 with a $3.30 coupon, for a total of $15.60. ($14.40 remaining)


Israeli Bandage Battle Dressing First Aid Compression Bandage, 6 Inch 



Contents: (1) vacuum-sealed 6" wide dressing

Reasoning: The Israeli bandage acts as a primary dressing, pressure applicator, and secondary dressing all in one unit. Between it and the trauma pad + QuikClot combo above, I can treat multiple wounds or a through-and-through that is bleeding on both sides.

Cost: $8.89 with free shipping. ($5.51 remaining)


Ready America First Aid Pocket Kit, 33-Piece

http://readyamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/RA-CAT-2018-M4-P1-OL-FULL-PRINT.compressed.pdf

Contents: See picture, above.

Reasoning: This rounds out the IFAK with band-aids for booboos, pain killers and antibiotic ointment.

Cost: $3.97 and free shipping for Prime members (which I am) when buying this with other items totaling $25 or more (which I am, with the Adventure Medical Kit and Israeli Bandage -- apparently the $3.30 coupon doesn't count against the $25 total).


Total Cost to Me: $28.92



Addendum: Adding a Tourniquet

If I'm allowed to go over budget by just $16.97, I can add a Recon Medical TQ. The addition of a tourniquet would make me feel a lot better about this IFAK, because then I can treat arterial wounds and traumatic limb loss.

https://amzn.to/2KKpZfe

DISCLAIMER: I have no idea regarding the quality of the product. It looks a lot like the North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) at half the price, but I don't know the design differences between the two brands or if this is a shoddy knockoff.

It does have a 5-star Amazon rating with over 1200 reviews and 87% of them giving it 5 stars. I recognize that this is not proof of quality, but that's a lot of anecdotal evidence by verified purchasers, many of whom claim to be in law enforcement, the military or fire/EMS. I would think that if it were junk, there would be far more negative reviews.

That said, I'd still purchase a CAT or a SOFTT-W over this one, simply because I know I can trust my life to them.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The IFAK

One of the basic prepper tools is a first aid kit. "First aid" covers almost all medical treatment given before a medical professional is involved, so it's a vague term; for some people with limited training first aid is the box of bandages and hydrogen peroxide in the medicine cabinet, while others carry a bag full of supplies suitable for responding to major trauma. Wherever you fall in the spectrum between those two extremes, an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) should be on your list of preps. Ideally, an IFAK should always be within reach, but keeping it in a desk drawer or glove box is better than not having one at all.

Contents
The concept of an IFAK came from the military, so a lot of the “tactical” preppers think that is the only way to go. Giving a soldier the means to treat wounds before a medic could get to him increases that soldier's chances of survival, but we're not all soldiers. For those of us who don't spend our days in a combat zone, the contents of an IFAK will change according to our training, budget, and perceived threats. More on that later.

During WW2 first aid kits were large and carried by a medic, someone with limited medical training. The contents and use of that type of kit can be found here, and some of the treatments are outdated or illegal today. (Can you imagine having to explain Morphine injectors to a cop at a traffic stop?) Fast-forward to the current wars and combat operations, and every soldier carries his own first aid kit for use on himself or another soldier. The contents of current kits varies by branch, so I'll break them down that way.

Army
  • Tourniquet, Combat Application
  • Elastic bandage
  • Gauze bandage, 4”x4”
  • 2” surgical tape, 6' roll
  • 4 exam gloves
  • Nasopharyngeal airway

Air Force
  • 2 Israeli bandages
  • 2 Gauze bandages, 4.5” x 148”
  • EMS shears
  • Nasopharyngeal airway
  • Surgical tape, 1”x 360”

USMC
  • 2 Tourni-Kwik tourniquets
  • 2 “H” compression bandages w/ 8”x10” pad
  • 2 Gauze bandages, 4.5”x148”
  • 5 Bandaids, 2”x4.5”
  • 10 Bandaids 3/4”x3”
  • 2 Triangular bandages 40”x40”x56”
  • Waterproof tape, 2”x100”
  • Burn dressing, Water-Jel, 4”x16”
  • 8 Antibacterial ointment packets
  • ½ oz bottle of Povidone-iodine solution
  • 10 water purification tablets, Katadyn Micropur brand

As you can see, the various branches have tailored their kits to meet the injuries they expect to see with a few basics common to all three. Compression bandages are good at stopping bleeding from wounds, surgical tape is handy in a lot of ways, and gauze bandages have been used for at least a century on the battlefield. Consider this if you're trying to put together a kit of your own, or if you're modifying a kit, rather than buying a pre-packed kit: you want to have what you think you'll need and have the training to use. For example, the nasopharyngeal airways are tricky to use and come in a variety of sizes.

The $30 IFAK Challenge
I have challenged the other authors here to put together a cheap ($30) IFAK to see what each of us thinks is most important to have at hand on a daily basis, so expect to see a few articles about them in the near future. My build will be posted next week, since I wanted to get this bit of comparison/history written first.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On Independence

I've given David the day off, so enjoy this post from last year. -- Erin

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
As this post goes live, it is Tuesday, July 4, 2017. It is also Independence Day. On this day 241 years ago, 56 men risked everything they had to ratify a document declaring that they would no longer be subjects to the ruler of a distant land.

Liberty, and everything that comes with it, was dear enough that men were willing to risk everything to obtain it. Failure meant certain death, as well as a permanent stain on their families and progeny.

In the modern day, we celebrate the success of their daring venture. The parades date back to young men (and some old men) marching off to war with a grand farewell. The fireworks are an analog of the artillery fire that has cleared the way for those brave men since the dawn of our nation.

Don't feel guilty if you barbecue, or go to car shows, or go camping or boating or whatever with your family for this holiday. Blood and treasure has been shed for two and a half centuries to secure your right to spend time with the people that matter to you. If patriotic displays or quiet remembrance are more your speed, that's perfectly appropriate, too; the memories of the lives spent in service are worth keeping.

Lives have been pledged to the ideals of this nation since before the Declaration of Independence was even ratified, a tradition which has continued uninterrupted. While at times our military was much smaller, we have always had a core of professional officers and specialists that recruits could rally around. As warfare became more complex and involved, a cadre of true professional soldiers has arisen to fill that role. The stunning part is that all of these professionals are volunteers. We haven't had conscript soldiers in my entire lifetime, and for nearly a decade before.

Knowing that our men and women in uniform all raised their hand of their own free will makes the final line of the Declaration even more poignant:
"with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
Honor those who have purchased liberty, in whatever way you see fit. That is the nature of freedom, and that is what they have secured for us all.

Lokidude

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Aprons and their Uses

We're going to be playing with shapes.

"Say what now?"

Well, that's technically what we're going to be doing, working with rectangles and a square. Depending on the need, maybe just rectangles. In other words, we're making a pattern for an apron.

Before we jump into that, let's go over the different jobs of aprons, a little bit of their history, and why I'm recommending you start using them and know how to make one.

History
We in the modern world haven't enjoyed mass produced clothing for all that long. At most, we've enjoyed clothing in its current form for only 60-70 years. Aprons, however, have existed for a very long time, with some of the earliest examples found with the Vikings. These are actually fairly accurate apron dresses, as some of the pieces from grave finds have been remarkably intact.

In some of the oldest professions in the world such at wood carving, leather working and blacksmithing, aprons are worn as means of protection for the person. (You can ask Firehand about that last one.) Made from leather or heavy duty fire-resistant fabrics, these are meant to protect you from sparks, a slipped carving knife, or accidentally gouging yourself with your awl.

In the simplest terms, the apron was created not long after clothing in order to keep said clothing clean for longer and protection it from damage and you from injury.

Types of Aprons
I think everyone still to this day has a fond memory of a grandmother and her apron.
  • Waist Apron: Covers you from the waist down. Consists of a single piece (or multiple small pieces) shaped in a rectangle that cover the front of your legs and out to normally halfway across your hips.
  • Bib Apron: If you work in retail or food service, this is the one that you will recognize. It covers you from the chest down. For most jobs, the basic bib apron is the pattern and style you're going to end up using the most. 
  • Pinafore: An apron to keep the clothes of playing children clean back when the outdoors were our TVs and game systems. 
  • Tabard: Another type of commonly found apron in today's world. 
  • There are two or three others, however they're not relevant to this article. 

Who Wears Aprons?
  • blacksmiths
  • butchers
  • armor and weapon makers
  • cooks
  • kitchen workers
  • carvers
  • welders
  • furniture makers
  • leather smiths 
  • cobblers
  • tailors
  • jewelers
  • metal forgers (not the same as blacksmiths)
  • fishermen 
  • clock makers
  • homemakers
  • tradesman
  • most artisans 
  • masons
  • gardeners
  • weavers
  • spinners
  • dyers
Have I made my point on this part? Aprons are useful tools.

There's an attitude that you will see pop up in discussions about This is an attitude that tends to make me reach for the cast iron frying pan and wooden spoons.
We are all far too used to the mass availability of materials, and it's made us less careful and less appreciative of our things like our jeans and shirts. There's an attitude of "Why should I have to take care of my clothing, or know how to fix it, or make new clothes, when I can just get new ones?"

Even a non-Hollywood SHTF situation will devastate or force a change in your wardrobe:
  1. Being stranded out of town
  2. Escaping a bad relationship
  3. Theft 
  4. Pregnancy
  5. Severe illness that makes your weight go up or down drastically
  6. Loss of home and belongings due to
    • Fire
    • Flood
    • Volcanic eruptions (don't look at me like that! Close to 50% of the world population have to be ready for it. Just look at recent eruptions in Guatemala, Hawaii and Indonesia)
    • Tornadoes
  7. General Evacuation
Aprons are a way to extend the life of your clothes. It's the simplest garment in the history of the world, second only to the loin cloth. 

I've taken to using one as frequently as I can remember. When I'm cooking, washing dishes, or doing outside things, I'm wearing one. Now that I'm hand-washing our clothing, I need the clothes to stay cleaner longer than before. Heck, my first apron was crocheted. I still have it and still use it.


I started out with just a waist apron and realized I needed to turn it into a bib apron. I also have a regular fabric apron that I made a few mistakes with, one of which being a little too wide on the waist-covering part, overlapping by a good couple of inches in the back. I'm dealing with that because I manged to make it, and even with the mistakes I'm rather proud of myself for it. 

Making Your Own
  1. Decide on what the apron is for ahead of time. This determines your materials and how much you'll need.
  2. Do the opposite of what I did and measure your waist and hip area first  You'll be making your own ties or adding your own snaps to it, so knowing the dimensions will make cutting it to form easier. 
  3. Take your time making it. You might find halfway through it''' work better as a waist apron than a bib, or vice versa.
  4. Don't be afraid to upcycle a shirt or use scraps for it. (Unless you're making one for use with fire related activities -- I'm not sure how you'd be able to make a scrap leather apron)
  5. If you go really crazy and knit or crochet one and make a bib apron, leave the straps around the neck as ties. That's the best thing I've found to deal with the stretching.
The most basic of patterns for an apron is this:


....that's a little too basic, isn't it?  Never fear, the link monster is here:
The number of cheap patterns from all pattern makers for under 5-6 bucks is rather large. If you decide to go with more of a tabard style, try looking for patterns under the secondary term of "Smock ".

Monday, July 2, 2018

Cheap Gear Review: Ozark Trail Pocket Knife


As many of you are aware, I like cheap gear. I also like knives, and I think I may have found an excellent combination of the two.

There is a brand of products called Ozark Trail, meant to compete with national brands on an “Okay quality, good price” basis. One of the things that they sell is actually called the Ozark Trail Everyday Carry Rivet Knife. Aside from the name (EDC knife), I find myself drawn to it by the price: $4.99 on Amazon as of this writing. It's cheap enough that you can hand them out as stocking stuffers, or to a teenager headed to scout camp, or to a co-worker, and not sweat the price.

https://tinyurl.com/y9dy3hx8
The knife is a liner-lock folder with a three-inch tanto tip and rear serrations. The four-inch handle is made of plastic. While it doesn't seem much to speak of, this review has actually been six months in the making and I am actually very impressed with this knife.

Use and Abuse
Things I have done to this knife:
  • I have run it through the dishwasher several times. No rust spots.
  • It has been left to soak overnight, which turned into a week. No rust spots.
  • I have used it to pry up staples from a tarp that was improperly attached to a wood frame.
  • I have used it to pry car parts apart from each other when working on my car. It wasn't the best tool, but the knife did not break, bend, deform, etc.
  • I have used the tip to make fairly precise cuts on paper, including cutting painter's tape in order to mask things off for air brushing. While it is not as precise as a razor, it actually seems to hold a tip better than my Cold Steel Black Sable.
  • It survived drops from my roof to the concrete (multiple times) and from my roof to the asphalt of the street with no ill effects. The blade didn’t even come out when it hit the ground, and there was no damage beyond scratches on the handle.
  • I have used it to cook, just because I could. It does in fact cut tomatoes, but it should be sharpened beforehand if you have been using it, and it is a little too small to cut them easily.

Now for the big one:

Surviving a Teenage Boy
I gave one of these (not the one that I have tested myself) to my 14 year-old nephew to take to scout camp and told him that he needed to test it to its limits and that I would replace this if it broke.

He has cut rope, whittled wood, carved his initials into a chunk of soapstone, hammered tent stakes, used it for eating, scraped the crud off the bottom of a cast iron pan, opened cans of food, cut up old bike tires, and generally been a teenage boy with it. Aside from needing to be sharpened (which has mostly consisted on running the end of it through a Lansky Blade Medic), I have had to do no real maintenance on it. The frame has not cracked and the blade has not bent, chipped, or broken.

Drawback
The one thing I have against this knife? The liner lock spring is quite stiff, and for someone with low hand or grip strength, it can be difficult to close one-handed. The liner lock is in fact stiff enough that it causes difficulty opening it for the first while that you own it, due to the friction on the blade itself, until it breaks in.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
It doesn't keep an edge as well as my Benchmade, or my Kershaw, or my other very nice knives, nor does it have some of the features I like (glass breaker, seatbelt cutter, etc.) but it costs nowhere near as much, and is about 80% as nice. I completely recommend it as an inexpensive EDC knife that, if it goes missing or breaks, you will not cry over.

Good luck, and don’t forget to practice.

The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License


Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.